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Above: Igor Sikorsky is shown handing over the VS-300 to Henry Ford for inclusion in the Edison Institute Museum in Michigan on October 7, 1943. Les Morris did a demonstration flight in the VS-300 prior to Dr. Sikorsky presenting it to Henry Ford. From left to right are Henry Ford II, Charles Lindbergh, Les Morris, Henry Ford and Igor Sikorsky. Photo: Courtesy of the collection of Mr. Charles G. Morris

1941. So while Igor Sikorsky and his team were flight testing and making adjustments to the VS-300 in hopes of establishing the new records, Les Morris went to work reading and study- ing all the helicopter information he could get his hands on. Eventually both records were set and Morris got his first chance to fly a helicopter on May 12, 1941. In typical beginner’s fashion, Morris over controlled the helicopter (a problem that has not changed for first time helicopter pilots over the past 70 years). However, Morris’s helicopter piloting skills quickly improved. Soon in addition to helping him learn to fly, Morris’s flights were collecting valuable information on the center of gravity of the VS-300 and how the amount of fabric covering the frame of the aircraft


affected the controllability (Morris, C. L., 1945). Late in the summer of 1941, Igor Sikorsky decided to resume devel- opment of full azimuth control. Early versions of the VS-300 had two outrig- gers on the tail near the vertical tail rotor. Each of these outriggers had a small horizontal rotor mounted on it. When the rotor blade pitch was increased on both horizontal tail rotors the tail pitched up and the nose pitched down controlling fore and aft move- ment of the helicopter. When the pitch on one of the horizontal tail rotors was increased and the pitch on the other one was decreased, the helicopter would roll to one side controlling lateral movement. Using rotor blade pitch changes in the main rotor to control the direction of the helicopter was deter-


mined to be much more efficient and effective. However, this method of full azimuth control in the main rotor was unproven and had led to an earlier crash in the VS-300. Incrementally, Igor Sikorsky and his team began to move towards full azimuth control. With each design change Morris would test fly the aircraft to evaluate its con- trollability. By the end of 1941, full azimuth control was deemed a success and Morris was able to reach speeds of over 80 miles per hour under full con- trol (Morris, C. G., 2010). This con- figuration is today known as cyclic con- trol and is a basic feature on all almost all helicopters.

Les Morris continued test flying the VS-300, helping Dr. Sikorsky and the engineering staff make adjustments to

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